I’ve got to come clean with you.

I’m becoming increasingly patriotic.

I really don’t want to be. I kind of liked things the way they were before this “call to care about my country” started to bubble up within my life.

Yep…I will admit it. Back then I didn’t vote. I didn’t care. I didn’t want
to know. I was too busy raising my kids, making ends meet, changing the world through the work that I do.

Not caring was easy.

Besides I had enough on my plate. Raising two extremely creative kids was a creative and stressful process all to itself. Why would I enter the political ring when at times it felt like I was having to referee “the ring” within my own home?

But in the last several years, a kind of soulful appreciation for my country has begun to wreak havoc with all this apathy. When it started I can’t be exactly sure, but it, like everything else that has ever mattered to me started as a whisper in my heart, gently worked its way into my thoughts and has now somehow powerfully called out to this soul of mine, in spite of my best attempts to keep it at bay, to speak up.

And so here I am. I am an American Patriot. I love my country.

With all the distress, unease, downright violence in the world, I can’t help but be overcome with gratitude each morning…for the simple things of my life…a roof over my head, food in my belly and my health.. Now don’t get me wrong. I know how good I’ve got it. I know that these simple things to which I refer, are longed-for-necessities for many of my American brothers and sisters. Having, myself, known rock-bottom, I do not take these things for granted. But I can unabashedly speak my truth and for this woman, this American, that means waking up, overcome with gratitude for the life I’ve been able to create in these United States of America.

Now don’t go all red or blue on me. This isn’t about politics. This is about a new voice. One that isn’t caught up in winning or losing, but more focused on how we play the game. I don’t want to talk to you about gun control, women’s rights or economics. I don’t want to talk to you about gay rights, religious freedom or immigration policy.

I want to clear the table and talk to you about what you believe, think and feel…and relish the fact that we can.

I want to get down underneath the issues and remember that without the freedom to have issues in the first place, the rest is a moot point. Look at it this way…if we all agreed on the hot topics we read about in the paper each morning, something would be wrong…very wrong and VERY scary.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking, feeling, DREAMING about my America and what I so desperately wish for her….and I keep coming back to one very simple idea.

Freedom. Freedom to be imperfect. Freedom to be angry. Freedom to be joyful. Freedom to express our opinions. Freedom to be our full and robust human selves, complete with imperfections, emotions and opinions. Freedom to forgive and be forgiven. Freedom to argue, to love, to cry, to shout, to pray, to sing, to learn, to live.

What my beautiful and precious America yearns for, dreams of, desperately cries out to me (and all of us) to do is to shift our vision to what lies beneath all the partisan politics…anger and political posturing…to see, touch and experience both in our daily lives and on the largest of political stages, our American government, a gentle reminder that what makes us great…I mean really great…is indeed (and somewhat ironically) the fact that we are, thanks to the innovative and out-of-the-box thinking of our founding fathers and mothers, free to disagree vehemently and passionately with each other. How beautiful is that really?

I honestly believe…I can actually see with my mind’s eye…that once we shift our focus from the fear and anger so many of us attribute to the current state of what appears to be an extremely polarized nation and instead, choose to remember, honor and express gratitude for the democratic process our founding fathers and mothers created that cultivates and actually calls for a difference in opinions, we can re-claim and re-member a real and doable American vision.

So…I invite you to go with me on this…the next time I am on this side of a hot political debate with someone…I think rather than shying away from expressing my opinion, I’m going to go for it, full steam ahead…listen with every ounce of my being, unabashedly (and if necessary dramatically) share my views; and then when it’s all said and done and we are exhausted from the effort passionate debate so often brings, shake hands and invite all involved in that fiery debate, to celebrate and honor each other for living fully into the freedoms our beautiful and great nation gives us with her tender and forgiving democracy.

“It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.” Thomas Jefferson